“31 Days to Great Sex” - Book Review
We loved Sheila Gregorie’s book “31 Days to Great Sex”. This book focuses on how we make sex great by improving our thoughts around sex and by improving our marriage in general. Our thoughts around marriage and sex are tightly connected and when we improve one it allows us to improve the other as well. As Gregorie puts it, “Sex is the physical acting out of everything that marriage is. We become vulnerable with each other. We become completely naked with each other—and that means real intimacy, not just physical intimacy. We cherish each other. We protect each other. But we also have a ton of fun together!”
One of the best places to start is communication. “Often one of the barriers to those fireworks is that you’ve never sat down and discussed what you want your sex life to be like or what you enjoy or what makes you nervous. [This book is] designed to help you take things slow and actually talk about what you’re feeling. Taking this opportunity to open those lines of communication will make the physical side of your relationship that much better. Sex is tied up in our identity, our feelings of self-worth, and our confidence in our marriage.” How often do you and your spouse sit down and talk about sex? When we do this, we don’t usually learn anything amazing or new, but it’s a good chance to make sure we are on the same page and understand each other. We talk about what we expect from each other, what our desires are, our best memories of sex, and other things.
Another point Gregoire makes is that we need to be present and willing to have sex. “Our biggest sex organ is our brain. We need to think the right thoughts about sex and feel the right emotions about sex before our bodies will work properly when it comes to sex.” We have started to do two things to help with this. First, after dinner, we talk about any thoughts or concerns that have come up through the day. Second, after the kids are in bed, we spend some time getting on the same page. Are we having sex tonight? Is there anything distracting us that we should discuss? Is there anything from the day we need to repair?
This book teaches that one of the roadblocks to intimacy is being ashamed of our bodies, and that we’ll be better able to enjoy sex if we’re happy with our body and self. “Ironically, as you embrace your body and accept it, taking care of it becomes easier… If you are packing an extra sixty or eighty pounds, the answer isn’t to berate yourself about it. Embrace your body and have as much fun with it as you can. Love your body, and you’ll treat it better.” In the last year we’ve embraced this notion. For example we spend more time naked together. After showering, we brush our teeth, make the bed, and pray together before getting dressed. This helps us see and accept our bodies and be more willing to allow our spouse to see them as well. Another thing that’s helped Kelli is simplifying her closet, and only owning clothes that fit her well and that she’s excited to wear. She now only has 6 or 7 things in her closet, but she buys something new every month or so. As we’ve done these things we’re finding it easier to take better care of our bodies. We eat better, have lost a significant amount of weight, are more comfortable with sex, and enjoying making love more as a result.
“I want to address something at the root of many of our marriage problems: we stop having fun together. And when we stop having fun, marriage becomes so, well, serious. Addressing problems in our marriages—whether they’re related to sex, parenting, finances, time, or whatever—is ever so much easier if we also find time to laugh together. A couple who laughs together is also a couple who enjoys being together and will find navigating all the difficulties of marriage much easier.” Sex doesn’t have to be serious. It’s allowed to be fun and lighthearted. We also need to find time during the day to laugh together and have fun together. For example we have a pile of soft cotton snowballs in our room that we spontaneously throw at each other. This sometimes leads to a snowball fight that gets us both laughing, sometimes the kids get involved.
There will always be one spouse who wants sex more than the other but the other spouse should still find times to initiate. This is an important part of your marriage. “When you initiate, you show your spouse that you love and desire him (or her). That makes your spouse feel better about you and about the relationship and makes both of you feel closer to each other. In a marriage, if one person does all the initiating, that person, whether male or female, will feel as if the other spouse doesn’t desire that kind of intimacy. That’s a lonely feeling. If you know you’re likely going to make love tonight anyway, why not make the extra effort to be the one to suggest it, or to try to seduce your spouse? When it’s a two-way street, you each feel desired, you each feel loved, and you each feel close to each other. When one is always doing the asking, it’s humiliating. You feel as if you’re constantly begging.” We struggled with this problem in our marriage. As a result we have started taking turns planning sex. Each morning one of us decides what we are doing that night. Normally nothing fancy, but maybe which lingerie, perfume, or whatever else. And then, if something comes up, we postpone our plans for another night.
“Here’s the most common destructive view of sex: many of us have come to see sex as an obligation. When we think about sex, we tend to think, “Do I have to tonight?” We figure we should because our spouses need it… You probably have come to see sex as one more thing on your to-do list. And when you don’t do it, your spouse can get irritated—hardly a sexy thought. But sex helps you too! If you’re really tired, sex will help you get to sleep faster and sleep more deeply. If you’re anxious, making love will help calm you down. Making love boosts your immunity, makes you less depressed, and best of all, makes you feel far more connected to your spouse.” Sex is an essential part of marriage and it’s important to see the joy and excitement that can be found when you make love. One of the biggest breakthroughs in our relationship was making ourselves open to the possibility of sex every night. We stopped putting limits on the number of times we should have sex each week. This helped end the tension of wondering if we were going to make love that night. Instead we look forward to it every night and if it doesn’t work out it’s okay because we just had sex the night before and we will likely have sex tomorrow as well.
Sex doesn’t start in the bedroom. “Spiritual intimacy during sex ultimately depends on the desire to be united with your spouse. And that desire is fed throughout the day—by concentrating on what you love about each other, by thinking about each other, by flirting and playing together, by making positive statements about each other to friends. It isn’t something that “just happens.” It’s the culmination of a relationship you already have.” Over the last year, we have increased how much we text each other during the day, allowing us to stay better connected. We now share our thoughts, experiences, and the funny things that happen, in a timely manner, instead of waiting until we’re back together at the end of the day.
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Our enjoyment of sex has more to do with how we think about sex than about anything else. Improving our relationship will have benefits for our sex life and vice versa. We need to make it easy to have sex. Go to bed at the same time, wake up together, create a bedroom that is inviting for both of you. If you are having to chase children out of the bedroom, or go find each other at night, it increases the cost of having sex which reduces the chances it will happen. “Making love is not a matter of understanding everything about sex; it’s understanding everything about each other. And it’s about how two people work together. What we have is unique and beautiful and doesn’t warrant being compared with anything else.”
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